Former Summit County commissioner and longtime Frisco business owner Donald Peterson died Friday morning at the age of 80 of natural causes.
"I know Don Peterson was passionate about two things in his life: First, his family, and second, Summit County," Peterson's friend and former Summit County Sheriff Delbert Ewoldt said.
Peterson served in the United States Air Force in the 1950s, where he flew cargo aircraft. He was an engineer by trade, and had a major hand in the development at Copper Mountain Resort. Peterson served as a county commissioner for six years, from 1982-88, and as a Frisco town councilman from 1996-99. Along with his wife, Jane, and son-in-law Dave Philips, Peterson opened up Summit Gold Jewelry in late 1986.
"He was very kind, very gentle," friend and former Summit County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said. "I never knew anybody who didn't like him."
Lindstrom posted the news of Peterson's passing on his Facebook page Friday morning, and said he got about 50 responses, all from people saying how nice Peterson was.
Peterson was a wonderful man and well-respected commissioner, Ewoldt said.
"He didn't play political games at all. If it was good for the county or the towns, he supported it," Ewoldt said. "It didn't matter whose idea it was."
Peterson a was a nice gentleman and a smart guy who did a variety of things over the years, including creating jewelry, which he loved to do, friend Tom Malmgren said.
Last December, Peterson told the Summit Daily News that his business, Summit Gold, started as a hobby in his garage. He liked to create unique pieces of jewelry - like a replica of Haley's Comet - and sell them through small ads in science publications.
He also loved to golf, and was always trying to improve his game, friends said.
Peterson is survived by his wife, Jane, a son, Brian, and two daughters, Donna and Lyn, and Lyn's husband, Dave Philips.
Ewoldt shared one of his favorite stories about Peterson. Peterson once entered a meeting at Frisco Town Hall with a tackle box and fly fishing pole, and announced that the meeting was only going to last one hour, and no more.
"If we couldn't make a decision in one hour he was going fly fishing. After he said it, we never thought anything more about it ... low and behold, at the stroke of 4 p.m., Commissioner Peterson stood up with his fishing pole and walked out the door," Ewoldt said. "It was absolutely hilarious."